Feb 12, 2008

[Health] Sugar Alternatives Can Make You Fat

Flickr: mrs.McD - Sugar Free Goodies
Sugar Free Goodies
by mrs.McD.

In these sometimes horrifically modern times, we've found ways to cheat our bodies with the advent of sugar-free, fat-free, salt-free, MSG-free and whatever-free goods in order to promote "healthier" living through modern chemistry. At one time or another, we've all ventured into products like this in an effort to get a better grip on our eating habits and our weight without going the slower traditional methods of a balanced diet and exercise.

I've always felt that if you leave scientists along long enough, they're bound to create studies about pretty much anything. Now there's a study out that appears to indicate that sugar substitutes might not be all that and may actually lead to weight gain. Seems surreal? I know it was bad enough that they're possibly carcinogenic, but now they can't even perform one of their primary functions in life?

In a TIME Magazine article, the details of a Purdue University study were discussed and frankly I found the whole thing fascinating. The gist of it is that two separate groups of rats were fed different diets - one with regular sweeteners and another with artificial ones and their eating habits were observed.

The end result is that the rats of artificial sweeteners were discovered to eat more and thus gained more weight. This was attributed to the fact that perhaps on the biological level, our bodies are hardwired into thinking that the taste of sweetness is linked to higher calories and our bodies prepare to digest and process higher amounts of calories when we eat sweet foods. However artificial sweeteners only have the sweet taste but none of the calories, and thus our body is left prepared for nothing. The alternative becomes driving us to look for other sources of calories.

The findings seem highly related to a study by the University of Alberta that was centered around diet foods in general and how the same behavior was observed - when we eat empty foods, our bodies send us off in search of the "missing" calories.

Now overall, this is not to say that sugar alternatives and diet foods are bad. It's just that there are natural consequences that come out because of them and we need to be sure to be ready for them. Less sugar in our diets in definitely healthier in order to prevent diabetes and diet foods do help us curb certain cravings without the high calorie pay off after all. Just remember that if you find yourself hungrier, then it's because of the foods we've chosen to include in our diets and this just might not work to our advantage.

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